Craig Ciaccio 

Craig Ciaccio 

Craig Ciaccio 

ALTAMONT — Craig Ciaccio was an exuberant person who liked being his own boss. He made friends throughout his life at whatever enterprises he was part of. He was a loyal son who loved Altamont.

He died on Friday, May 1, 2020, after succumbing to COVID-19 contracted while recovering from endocarditis at The Grand in Guilderland Center. He was 58.

Mr. Ciaccio grew up in Altamont, the youngest of the three children of Charles and Prudence Ciaccio. His father was the Guilderland High School principal and his mother was a homemaker.

“He was an active kid,” said his sister, Karen Cornelius. “We were close.” He liked fishing and being outdoors, she said. “We did a lot of camping.”

She went on, “He was fun.” Not a bookish boy, he was active in high school and participated in the high school musical.

“He knew everybody. He knew what was going on,” said Ms. Cornelius.

“He was exuberant,” said Jeff Perlee, a lifelong friend of Craig Ciaccio. “Our families camped together. Whenever my mom had a baby or was in the hospital, I’d go stay with the Ciaccios.”

Mr. Perlee continued, “Craig was a real entrepreneur, a real go-getter, a hail fellow well met.”

After graduating from Guilderland High School, Mr. Ciaccio ran concession stands at New York State parks, including at Thompsons Lake and Thacher Park.

“He always wanted to be his own boss,” said his sister.

Mr. Ciaccio later owned Distribution Systems Inc., which distributed magazines to restaurants and diners. That went by the wayside, his sister said, with the advent of the internet.

Mr. Ciaccio was resilient and worked with Dick Spadaro at his Early Ford Reproductions business based in Altamont, a job that involved traveling to far-flung antique-car shows. 

“When he worked with Dick, he would travel to Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Connecticut … He was gregarious. He met a lot of people,” said his sister.

Nine years ago, Mr. Ciaccio suffered a stroke but fought his way back. “It was quite amazing what he overcame … He had no outward signs of deficit. He really fought,” said his sister.

His last position was with Pollard’s where he did internet sales.

As his parents became elderly, Mr. Ciaccio moved into their Altamont home to care for them.

“He had a garden and liked to mow the lawn — it was his pride and joy,” said Ms. Cornelius.

“He did the grocery shopping, the meal prep, saw that they took their meds — everything. It was a hard thing to do but they were able to live in their home,” said Ms. Cornelius of her parents.

Mr. Ciaccio developed a heart infection in March and was taken to St. Peter’s Hospital by ambulance. Since coronavirus restrictions were in place, and visitors were not allowed in hospitals, Ms. Cornelius said, “We just watched the ambulance drive away … It was brutal.”

Things went well at St. Peter’s and Mr. Ciaccio was discharged to The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Guilderland on March 30.

Despite his own ailment, Mr. Ciaccio was able to buoy the spirits of others. 

“He loved the Yankees and he shared that love with our Aunt Sue,” said Ms. Cornelius. “He talked with her nearly every day, including many times while he was in the hospital and at the rehab center when she was isolated in a nursing home under hospice care.”

Mr. Ciaccio contracted COVID-19 at The Grand.

Again, because of state restrictions, Ms. Cornelius said, “We could not visit him there. We brought him some stuff but we couldn’t see him. Tuesday, he had difficulty breathing.”

On April 28, Mr. Ciaccio was taken to St. Peter’s Hospital where he was put on a ventilator. Again, his family was unable to see him.

“We Skyped,” said Ms. Cornelius. Although her brother was unconscious, she was able to talk to him through the computer hook-up.

Reflecting on her brother’s personality, Ms. Cornelius said, “He was headstrong. 

“And he had a really strong sense of right and wrong.” He would care about others’ needs, not just his own.

When he was in the nursing home, her brother had wanted a pizza, Ms. Cornelius said. “But he wouldn’t let us send one because everyone couldn’t have it.”

****

Craig Caccio is survived by his parents, Charles and Prudence Ciaccio; by his brother, Charles Ciaccio Jr. and his wife, Kathy, of Wachapreague, Virginia; and by his sister, Karen Cornelius, and her husband, David, of Syracuse. He is also survived by three nephews, Josh Shannon, Matthew Shannon, and John Ciaccio; by his niece, Katy Eames and her husband, Noah; and by three great nieces.

His nephew, Charles “CJ” Ciaccio III, died on May 15, 2012 and his Aunt Sue (H. Suzanne) Clemishire died on April 21, 2020.

He will be remembered with a celebration of his life at a later date.

The family thanks the staff at St. Peter’s Hospital for their compassionate and professional care during his hospitalizations.

Friends are invited to honor Craig Caccio’s memory on Tuesday, May 5, by stopping by the gazebo in Altamont’s Orsini Park, from 3 to 6 p.m., to drop off a card or note, which will be delivered to his parents, both in their 90s, who recently moved to an assisted-living facility near Syracuse.

Altamont friends are also encouraged to light a candle and place it in a window on Tuesday evening. A video will be made of houses lit up and will be given to the Ciaccio family.

Social distancing measures will be observed and enforced, said Jeff Perlee. Suzanne Perlee Hale, in posting a notice about the remembrance, wrote, “Please join us in supporting his parents and family, honoring his memory and making a statement that together we are stronger than this terrible virus.”

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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